By the time a homeowner discovers a termite infestation, chances are that the destructive pests have already caused serious structural damage. So it is with “campus diversity officers,” a category of academic bureaucrat that didn’t even exist until fairly recently. Within a short period, diversity apparatchiks have taken root on most college campuses, and in many cases expanded into sprawling bureaucracies with multimillion-dollar budgets. Diversity departments have become a common campus amenity, like gourmet dorm food, climbing walls, and lazy rivers. Unlike lavish recreational facilities for students, which turn college campuses into an expensive Club U, administrative bureaucracies breed inertia. With size and resources come power, and, in keeping with Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, a continual quest for aggrandizement.
It’s no wonder, then, that campus diversity officers have already formed a rent-seeking trade association, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), complete with annual conferences, self-serving “standards for professional practice,” a political agenda, and—since this is academia, after all—a pseudo-scholarly publication, the quarterly Journal of Diversity in Higher Education (priced at $681 per year for institutions). A typical article is entitled “The Influence of Campus Climate and Urbanization on Queer-Spectrum and Trans-Spectrum Faculty Intent to Leave.” Hundreds of universities, public and private, large and small, are members of NADOHE, including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. NADOHE finances its activities with hefty membership dues for institutions ($1,250 per year), while offering individual and student memberships at lower cost.